UN chief Antonio Guterres on Saturday exhorted the international community to step up efforts to help flood-ravaged Pakistan while conceding "what the UN is doing in Pakistan is a drop in the ocean of what is needed,” terming the devastation in the country as “unimaginable.” Secretary General Guterres made these comments in Sukkur in Pakistan’s Sindh province, where he was visiting flood-hit areas.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif briefed Guterres about the devastation caused by the floods during their flight to visit flood-affected areas of Balochistan and Sindh. Taking an aerial view of the flood-affected regions, the UN chief termed the devastation as 'unimaginable'. Countries vulnerable to climate change, including Pakistan, must be supported to rebuild resilient communities and infrastructure to resist future disasters, Guterres said, as he rounded-off the two-day solidarity trip to the country.
He said that there needs to be a serious discussion on loss and damages as "what the UN is doing in Pakistan is a drop in the ocean of what is needed." Later, the UN chief was accompanied by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to flood-relief camps in Larkana in Sindh province. Guterres was also briefed by officials on the situation of UN heritage sites in Mohenjo Daro, which were ravaged by the floods.
“And nature strikes back in Sindh, but Sindh has not made the emission of greenhouse gases that have exacerbated climate change,” he noted. It is a “very unfair situation in relation to the level of destruction we are seeing in Sindh,” he lamented. "We are perfectly aware of our limited capacity and our resources. But you can absolutely be sure about one thing: we are in total solidarity with the Pakistani people,” Geo TV quoted him as saying.
The UN chief said that he will ask the international community to ensure that they help Pakistan "now" while vowing to raise awareness about the disastrous situation, the report said. Guterres’ call for action came as Pakistan reported another five fatalities — three of whom were children — in the last 24 hours. According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the country has logged 1,396 deaths since mid-June, 499 of them being children.
Cumulatively, there have been 1,396 fatalities since mid-June, 499 of whom are children. In its daily update, the National Flood Response Coordination Centre (NFRCC) said that during a total of 6,579 km of roads, 246 bridges and 173 shops were damaged. Last week, the UN had launched an appeal for USD 160 million in aid for Pakistan. In a tweet, the UNSG said developing nations were paying a "horrific price" for the world's reliance on fossil fuels. "Pakistan and other developing countries are paying a horrific price for the intransigence of big emitters that continue to bet on fossil fuels," Guterres said.
"From Islamabad, I am issuing a global appeal: Stop the madness. Invest in renewable energy now. End the war with nature,” he added. Guterres said on Friday that floods are estimated to have caused about USD 30 billion in economic losses to Pakistan, wiping out more than 8 million acres of crops and displacing more than 33 million. The floods have also interrupted the education of nearly 3.5 million children across the country, the UN said in a report.
He said that there was “no memory of anything similar to what has happened with the impact of climate change in Pakistan” and added the number of losses and victims was appalling. The UN chief called the lack of global attention to climate change insanity. "This is insanity, this is collective suicide," Guterres told a news conference here.
The massive losses from the catastrophic monsoon rains and floods in Pakistan, the war in Ukraine and other factors may force it to slash its GDP growth rate for the financial year 2022-2023 from five per cent to three per cent, according to government estimates. Meanwhile, two shipments from the UN carrying 15.6 metric tonnes of cholera kits, water and multi-purpose tents arrived in Karachi on Friday. Separately, the US has also announced an additional USD 20 million as financial aid for flood relief, according to the Express Tribune newspaper.